WEEKEND LIGHTER: ELECTORAL BONDS AND TRANSPARENCY ISSUES

WEEKEND LIGHTER: ELECTORAL BONDS AND TRANSPARENCY ISSUES
(January 1-7, 2018)

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I-Cover Story

Electoral Bonds and Transparency Issues  

This refers to your editorial* "Electoral Bonds Eschew Transparency" (Economic Times, January 4). While all the issues raised are most relevant in the context, the apparent aversion to transparency in transactions is intriguing. The reference is to the lament about loss of anonymity, as banks and government will get to know the details of the donors and the recipients. Banking and governments survive on public trust. 
While the political opposition will take time to become proactive for historical reasons, media can afford to be a little more supportive when government's intentions are not doubtful.
M G WARRIER, Mumbai
*Link below:
http://wap.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/fm-announces-contours-of-electoral-bonds-for-funding-of-political-parties-

II Some useful links

Raghuram Rajan’s views
THE REAL JOY OF GOING PLACES
An interesting article on travel:
Excerpts:
“I belong to the Indian banking family, and thanks to the leave fare concession (LFC), I have a fair share of traveling experience. I am also a mother of three children in their twenties who belong to the #wanderlust generation. All my LFC tours have been to the most touristy places we could find at the given time. So Kaziranga may not be the place to find solitude but sighting a mother rhino-baby rhino pair is no less joyous. And I would have missed them if not for the Punjabi family screaming with excitement on spotting the pair from a kilometer away. Next to the Punjabi family was a group from Chennai in which all the women were clad in beautiful sarees. That is how I came to know of Mysore silk. My son says I can see and buy the same on the Internet but the Internet also has a picture of my husband standing next to Barack Obama in the White House. Does it feel real? No.
For me, people do not ruin the beauty of a place. Rest assured that water in the Nohkhalikai falls will not stop plunging if there are too many people around. In fact, being among so many happy people can automatically cheer you up. Also, they add to the beauty of the place by pointing out every possible angle and view from which it can be looked at.”






III A recent media response

Letters, The Hindu Business Line, January 3, 2018

Lopsided farm policy*
This refers to the excellent piece, ‘Agriculture market reforms are a must’ by A Narayanamoorthy and P Alli (January 2). The solution lies in a holistic approach to reforms. An example may bring out the glaring disparity. A bank takes deposits at an average cost of 8 per cent per annum and ‘sells’ its product, namely ‘loan’, at 12 per cent per annum. Today’s announcement by SBI about a cut of 30 basis points in its base rate makes a headline. No one talks about a farmer getting 4 a kilo of potato when a kilo of potato chips is sold at 400 a kilo, or when tomato prices are at a low of 5 a kilo at the farm gate, tomato ketchup is sold at 100 for 400 ml. Where do the margins go? When product prices go up, is it a crime for the farmer who produces the basic ‘raw material’ to expect a reasonable rise in prices of his produce? The farmer gets all the blame for his inability to repay loans when the real culprit is lopsided government policy.
Meanwhile, ‘cooperative federalism’ should not remain just a slogan. Ongoing consultations between Centre and States should evolve common minimum programmes bringing transparency in concessions and waivers where necessary and cross-subsidization of costs where unavoidable.
MG Warrier
Mumbai
*This is the published letter. Submitted version follows:

Costs and prices in agriculture
This refers to the excellent, well-researched piece on agriculture market reforms by A Narayanamoorthy/P Alli (Business Line, January 2). The issues raised include those emanating from agriculture and cooperative sectors remaining in the concurrent list and resultant lack of focused attention on reforms. Farmers and those engaged in marketing and processing of agricultural produce especially in rural areas are still dependent on the cooperative sector which has suffered most in the process of reforms in financial sector and entry of the rich in sectors which were hitherto dominated by local entrepreneurs. The solution lies in a holistic approach to reforms.
The article discusses farmer’s income from different perspectives. An example may bring out the glaring disparity which the authors are trying to explain. A bank takes deposits at an average cost of 8 percent per annum and ‘sells’ its product namely ‘loan’ at 12 percent per annum. Today’s announcement by SBI about a cut of 30 basis points in its base rate makes a headline. No one talks about a farmer getting Rs4 per kg of potato when a kg of potato chips is sold at Rs400 per kg, or when tomato prices are at a low of Rs5 per kg at the farm gate, tomato ketchup is sold at Rs 100 for 400 ml. Where do the margins go? When product prices go up, is it a crime for the farmer who produces the basic ‘raw material’ to expect a reasonable rise in prices of his produce at least to make farming viable? Instead, the farmer gets all the blame for his inability to repay loans on due dates when the real culprit is government policy which is biased.
High time, we took up a comprehensive review of our costs, prices and income policy to ensure reasonable farm gate prices, living wages for workers both on farms and factories and prices for products commensurate with costs of inputs and need for incentives.
Meanwhile, ‘cooperative federalism’ should not remain just a slogan. Problems arising from certain subjects like agriculture and cooperation remaining in the concurrent list should not continue to be a convenient tool for proving ‘one-upmanship’ in election manifestoes. Ongoing consultations between Centre and states should evolve common minimum programs bringing transparency in concessions and waivers where necessary and cross-subsidization of costs where unavoidable.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
IV Leisure
A lifetime achievement
P P Ramachandran’s book reviews in FPJ
Shri P P Ramachandran’s (fondly called PPR) review of the book "An Unbeaten Century-------100 years of Karur Vysya Bank" appeared in the Free Press Journal on  December 31, 2017. With the publication of the review of "An Unbeaten Century" PPR has added  another unbeaten record to his cap. This was his 52nd book review published in Free Press Journal in the year 2017 - 52 book reviews in 52 weeks. PPR deserves all praise for his achievement, especially at 80+ age.  It shows his enthusiasm to pursue the ‘hobby’ he chose for himself as a teenager and his commitment to reading and writing. On a personal note:
Congratulations, PPR Sir 
This must be a repeat performance during the year 2017, as your Book Reviews started appearing in FPJ long ago. I'm not trying to dilute the significance of the reason for celebration, as the latest year in which the uninterrupted 52 was scored, your 81st HBD was celebrated by your loving daughters.
We are proud of you.
I'm one of the 50 odd (maybe more) Exrbites whose books were reviewed by you. Let me repeat what I felt after reading the review of my book: "The review is more professional, brings out the content and purport of the book in much lesser space"
Here, I remember with gratitude, your promise to review my second book also. Your blessings will continue to be an encouragement for me to share my thoughts in public.
Many of us start our day reading PPR mails.
Best Wishes and Warm Regards
M G Warrier



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